Newton NFC South's top QB Sunday

Let’s start this out by qualifying that it came against a dismal Tampa Bay defense. But Carolina rookie Cam Newton was the NFC South’s best quarterback by at least one measure Sunday.

Newton’s Total QBR was 91.7. That was even higher than Drew Brees, who usually tops the division’s quarterbacks. Brees’ Total QBR was 84.7, good for fourth in the league. But Newton ranked third behind only Tom Brady (93.6) and Aaron Rodgers (92.4). The scores also included the Thursday night game.

So Newton’s in the same conversation as Brady, Rodgers and Brees now? Well, there still are likely to be some ups and downs in his maturation process. But Sunday showed Newton can play with the best of them at times. His three rushing touchdowns helped his score greatly, and the 91.7 Total QBR was the highest of Newton’s career.

Tampa Bay’s Josh Johnson, who made his first start since 2009, was No. 8 at 67.7. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was No. 25 at 31.2.

On the season, Brees is No. 2 in average Total QBR at 79.5. Ryan is No. 8 at 63.1. Newton is No. 15 at 56.8. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, who sat out Sunday with a shoulder injury, is No. 22 at 47.0.